Finished Refinishing Vanity

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Project by davidroberts posted 07-05-2010 07:54 AM 3678 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello my fellow LJers.

In the Texas heat, in a non-air conditioned garage, actual woodworking is more of a winter sport, especially if you are weak like me ;). But refinishing can be accomplished indoors, especially when my LOML says now would be a good time to get this done. I debated whether to post this as a blog or project. Believe me, this was a project, and I have a mess in the kitchen to show for it. This is a walnut and birds eye maple vanity for my daughter. The deal was my neighbor would let me have the bedroom set if I refinished it and gave it to my daughter. I posted the matching bed refinish about 2 months ago. Here’s the schedule:

Remove original hardware and strip with the nastiest chemicals I could find. I suggest wearing a moon suit for this task.

Scrub with a nylon brush and wash the waxy stripper off with lacquer thinner.

Devise ways to get glue into tiny cramped areas and under pealing veneer. I now know them all. Glue loose veneer. This was quite a chore and I used every spring clamp I had, 20 or so. I decided not to replace veneer. Just patch it up with glue as best I could.

Apply liberal amounts of Watco medium walnut wipe-on oil varnish and let sit till tackly, about 30 minute. Your milage may vary. Spot apply to dry areas. I didn’t do any sanding. The wood was just right after stripping. Although I did use a very fine Brite pad to spread the varnish around.

Wipe off real good with old tee shirts and let dry.

Apply several coats of teak oil to birds eye maple and the dark diagonal walnut drawer fronts.

Wait a few days (3 to 5 ) for the teak oil to dry. The varnish will dry indoors in 24 to 36 hours.

At this point I admired the simple beauty of the stained/varnished walnut. Classic beauty.

But I wanted a little more shine and protection so I applied Briwax dark brown wax everywhere with 4 naught steel wool, except the birds eye and dark drawer fronts, where I applied Renissience wax.

Buffed lightly until I got a nice glow.

Remove tarnish on the hardware using a stationary grinder wire wheel and buff with a cloth wheel using 2-5 micron paste. They can out pretty nice.

I finished this a week ago and now have finished the matching dresser this weekend and will post later.

Thanks for looking!

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

9 comments so far

View patron's profile


13646 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 07-05-2010 08:55 AM

well done , david .
looks real nice .

i must admit , you lost me at
strip with nasty chemical .
been there , hate that .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3374 days

#2 posted 07-05-2010 09:57 AM

Looks new now, I am sure your daughter will enjoy it. Great project, and tutorial. thanks for sharing.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3254 days

#3 posted 07-05-2010 10:23 AM

Just to share… It take a long time to use wax strippers. On my last experience, I accidentally discovered that epoxy reducers are better to use in stripping. It does not destroy the wood. Have a try…next time.

-- Bert

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3342 days

#4 posted 07-05-2010 02:21 PM

Wow David, great refinishing job. I have a similar piece, a vanity with mirror sitting in my foyer that needs to be refinished. So if I drop it off with you . . .

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View Hallmark's profile


432 posts in 3439 days

#5 posted 07-05-2010 08:29 PM

Nicely done, well worth the effort. Lovely piece.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View jack1's profile


2123 posts in 4360 days

#6 posted 07-05-2010 11:44 PM

lots of work. looks good

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View woodflower's profile


20 posts in 3216 days

#7 posted 07-06-2010 02:06 AM

It’s beautiful. Now I feel guilty looking at a mirrored vanity I have sitting in my workshop. My friend took it out of the trash. I swore after the last drop side birch table I refinished that I’d never do it again, and besides, my arms aren’t strong enough….But the vanity is beautiful…

-- Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have; be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. - Carl Sandburg

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4106 days

#8 posted 07-06-2010 02:21 AM

You did a very nice job on this piece. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3818 days

#9 posted 07-06-2010 02:50 AM

Thanks everyone, I fudged on saying it is a completed project. I was reminded I still have the mirror frame and the bench to finish. The bench dowels are in bad shape but all the parts are there. I’ll need to order a beveled mirror. Maybe a Christmas present.

Patron – Next time, if there is one, I’m going stricly ecofriendly. Back in the day, in California, I stripped some paint off cabinets with nontoxic paint remover. It worked well. I just wasn’t sure how well it would work on varnish and stain. I’ll do better next time!

Wseand – It was worth watching my daughter go gaga over furniture. I’m her hero for another month!

Bert – Is there a brand of epoxy reducer you recommend. Don’t guess I’ve ever used any, that I know of.

Otto – HaHa, Well I do have a couple of kids heading off to college, so who knows where a little extra income may come from. Probably not refinishing!!!

Jack1 – Thanks Jack. Glad to finish. Get it, haha.

Woodflower, I felt it in my arms. Better than hammering above my head though.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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